Wendy L. Prater
Attorney At Law

Probate/Estate Administration

What happens when a will is probated?

If a Decedent's estate requires an administration, an Application for Probate of Will and Issuance of Letters Testamentary is filed. After a posting period, a Court hearing is held to appoint the Executor of the will.

What is an Executor?

The Executor (Executrix if a female) is the person designated in a will to distribute the estate. This person is usually the applicant requesting the Court to accept the will as valid in a probate proceeding. Texas has the existence of an "Independent Executor". This means once the Independent Executor is appointed by the Court, this person has the freedom to distribute the estate without Court intervention.

Once appointed, what does the Executor do?

The Executor has the fiduciary responsibility to distribute the estate as set out in the Decedent's will. In addition, the Executor has some statutory responsibilities, including having a notice to creditors printed in a newspaper and filing an Inventory of the Estate. These are addressed more specifically in the Texas Probate Code.

What are Letters Testamentary?

Letters Testamentary is the document the Executor receives from the County Clerk showing their authority to access the Decedent's property and estate. It is the tool used to gather all of the Decedent's estate for distribution.

When must a will be filed for probate?

Generally you have four years to file a will for probate.

Must all wills be probated?

Not necessarily. It depends on what is in the decedent's estate. Non-probate assets, such as financial accounts with right of survivorship, financial accounts payable on death, and life insurance policies with a living beneficiary, pass regardless of the terms of a will or the existence of a will.

I heard probate proceedings are difficult. Is this true?

Because of the existence of an Independent Executor, Texas has a relatively simple probate process.

What happens if someone dies without a will?

Probate proceedings are still available depending on the Decedent's estate. If the estate is relatively small, a Small Estate Affidavit may be an option. There is also the Declaration of Heirship proceeding and Administration proceedings. Sometimes a proceeding in Probate Court is unavoidable.

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Wendy L. Prater
Attorney at Law

1919 North Loop West, Suite 490
Houston, Texas 77008
Phone: (713) 802-9171
Fax: (713) 802-9173
E-mail